Category Archives: Uncategorized

A Half-Million Steelhead Will Be Released In Feather River

CDFW photo

The following press release is courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife:

Hatchery trucks from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) today began the weeklong process of stocking a half million young steelhead smolts on the Feather River near Yuba City. The 125,000 fish released Monday were the first of the fish reared from eggs rescued from the Feather River Fish Hatchery during last year’s Feather River spillway failure. Plants will continue through Thursday near Yuba City.

More than a million steelhead eggs were endangered in February 2017 when silt and debris overwhelmed the hatchery water system following the spillway failure. With less than 72 hours to complete fixes on aeration and filtration systems CDFW engineers went to work to save the steelhead eggs stacked in hundreds of trays at the hatchery.

Feather River steelhead are on the state and federal list of species of concern, and the hatchery is key to maintaining the viable run in the Central Valley. The eggs in the hatchery during the Feather River spillway event represented a year-age class of steelhead.

Engineers redesigned the water in-flow system using city water for the incubating steelhead. They also brought in massive six-foot-tall charcoal filters to purify the city water and reconfigured the aeration system. These alterations made this week’s release of more than 500,000 steelhead possible.

“CDFW engineers did something that had never been done successfully before on a massive scale,” said Feather River Fish Hatchery Manager Anna Kastner. “The eggs were in a fragile state of incubation and could not be moved, so innovation was the only option. The use of city water for incubation paid off.”

CDFW Engineers George Heise and Beth Lawson, working with hatchery personnel, pathologists and biologists, conferred on the requirements of redesigning the system.  Once agreed upon they went to work.

“Our options were limited and something had to be implemented immediately. The team told us what they needed and we went to work making it happen,” Heise said.

Thousands of anglers fish these waters annually, significatnly boosting the local economy. Finding an emergency fix for the potential catastrophic loss of a year of hatchery production of steelhead was critical – recreationally, economically and biologically.

John Church, a local fisherman from Yuba City, is one of the many anglers who value and rely on steelhead fishing opportunities on the Feather River. “It’s really important to me and family … I take my daughters to the Feather River for the chance to catch a steelhead each year,” he said. “It is what we go there for.”


Abalone Poachers Owe Stiff Fines

The Mendocino County District Attorney’s Office has settled three major abalone poaching cases involving Fort Bragg, Sacramento and Bay Area abalone poachers, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced.

Two of the settled cases resulted in hefty fines and other penalties for restaurant owners:

  • Steven Yuan Qin Liang, 47, of Fort Bragg pled
    Evidence seized in the Liang case.

    guilty to felony conspiracy involving the purchase and black market sales of sport-caught abalone for personal profit. Liang, owner of the Asian Buffet restaurant in Fort Bragg, was ordered to serve 360 days in the Mendocino County Jail, placed on probation for 36 months and ordered to pay a fine of $15,000. He is prohibited from obtaining a sport or commercial fishing license for life.

  • Bryant Chiu Shiu Lee, 44, of Sacramento, pled guilty to a misdemeanor charge of purchasing abalone for black market resale. Lee, owner of the Sushi Café in Sacramento, was placed on probation for 36 months and ordered to pay a fine of $40,000. He is prohibited from obtaining a sport or commercial fishing license for life.

Liang and Lee were both convicted in late 2017, following a joint investigation by the CDFW Special Operations Unit and Mendocino Coast squad that began in June 2015.

In the third case, the strange circumstances surrounding an emergency rescue led to an investigation and eventual conviction.

  • Justin Joseph Adams, 44, of Alameda, pled guilty to charges of conspiracy and taking abalone for black market sale. He was ordered to serve 210 days in the Mendocino County Jail, was placed on probation for 36 months and was ordered to pay a fine of $15,000. He is also prohibited from obtaining a sport or commercial fishing license for life.
Adams case April 2017
Evidence seized in the Adams case.

In April 2017, wildlife officers received information from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Department, Elk Volunteer Fire Department and Mendocino Volunteer Fire Department about odd circumstances surrounding a cliff rescue in Elk, Mendocino County. Adams had been dropped off by a friend the day before at the headlands just north of Cuffy’s Cove in Elk. He climbed down a steep cliff to the water’s edge and harvested abalone during low tide, but when the tide returned, his return route was blocked. When he failed to appear at a pre-determined pick-up location, a friend called in a missing persons report. Rescuers found Adams stranded on the side of a steep cliff and extracted him around 2 a.m.

Wildlife officers suspected poaching activity may have factored into Adams’ predicament. The day after the rescue, CDFW Lt. Joel Hendricks and Warden Don Powers donned wetsuits and swam to the location below where Adams was rescued to look for evidence of poaching. In a deep cut under the bluff, directly under the location of Adams’ rescue, they found two bags containing 38 abalone. One of the bags also contained a half-consumed plastic bottle of water. After obtaining a DNA sample from Adams via a search warrant, they sent the sample and the water bottle to the California Department of Justice Forensics Laboratory. The lab matched the DNA evidence from the bottle to Adams.

Trafficking of illegally harvested abalone on the black market continues to pose a significant enforcement problem and further exacerbates the pressure on the abalone population. Black market values will likely increase with the closure of the 2018 sport abalone season. Wildlife officers continue to conduct in-depth investigations and arrest those who continue to poach and commercialize abalone.

“It is immensely important for wildlife officers to work with District Attorneys who understand the importance of prosecuting poaching crimes against the dwindling abalone resource,” said CDFW Deputy Director and Chief of Law Enforcement David Bess. “The Mendocino County District Attorney’s office has an excellent track record in this regard.”

CDFW’s wildlife officers and biologists alike hope to see the return of a recreational abalone harvest as soon as the abalone population rebounds.

Underdog Sport Fishing

Underdog Sport Fishing
World-Class Fishing, Unmatched Service
Custom-tailored charters and lodging in Port Protection, Alaska

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Self-Guided Fishing
World-class fishing at your pace with our meticulously maintained boat and gear

Captain your own boat in our very navigation-friendly waters. Leave and return on your own schedule and fish how you want to, where you want to, using one of the safest and most stable boats available.

Self-guided trips are extremely popular and book up fast. This really is an incredible way to explore our waters, and having the to freedom to do it on your own brings guests back year after year.


Self-Guided Boat and Gear
Svendsen Marine in Wrangel, Alaska builds some amazing boats. Their 21-foot skiff is the pickup truck of boats for southeast Alaska. With positive flotation, self-bailing decks, and seating for four, this is the ultimate self-guided boat.

Rigged with a reliable Yamaha F150 main and a Yamaha 9.9 kicker, all with electric start and power trim, this craft will get you and up to three of your friends safely to and from some of the most prolific waters in North America.

Our Svendsen is the largest, most capable, best equipped and arguably the safest boat offered for self-guided fishing at any lodge in Southeast Alaska.

It also comes equipped with the same high-end tackle, rigging, and gear that our charter boat utilizes, including Accurate reels and Star Paraflex rods for your bottom fishing and Shimano Tekota 600LC’s paired with Lamiglas Kenai Quik rods for your salmon fishing and mooching.

A landing net, harpoon, salmon pick, Yeti cooler, and everything else you need for an enjoyable, trouble-free, and efficient fishing adventure are also included. An easy-to-use Lowrance GPS makes navigation simple, a powerful Lowrance CHIRP (compressed high intensity radiated pulse) fishfinder helps you find the bait and gamefish, and a VHF keeps you in contact with the lodge. All USCG-required safety gear is on board, along with an EPIRB.

According to Alaskan self guided regulations, you may retain larger halibut that on a guided charter boat. Current regulations allow for the retention of two halibut per person of any size.

A One-of-A-Kind Adventure
Quick access to pristine waters from a picturesque and rarely visited outpost

Featured in the National Geographic Channel show Port Protection, this remote outpost on Wooden Wheel Cove on the northwestern coast of Prince of Wales Island lies only minutes from some of the most productive fishing anywhere in Alaska — not just for salmon, but also for monster lingcod, halibut, and yelloweye rockfish.

We offer the only charter fishing available in the area, which is accessible only by boat or float plane. It’s not easy, operating a lodge and charters here, but the opportunity to share the experience of fishing these pristine waters with our clients and friends is more than worth the challenge.

Fishing Port Protection
Different species of salmon inhabit these waters at different times of the summer. Kings are available year-round and silvers (cohos) usually show up in August. But that’s only part of the story. Because bottom species are less migratory than salmon, their numbers and size in a given area are much more easily affected by fishing pressure. That means the bottom fishing out of Port Protection, which experiences only a tiny fraction of the pressure of more established destinations, is truly exceptional, with abundant halibut, yelloweye rockfish and especially gargantuan lingcod.

The remoteness of the area also brings its challenges. There is no easy way to replace gear or get equipment repaired, so we not only make sure our boats are in top shape before making the trip, but also take spares of nearly everything — rods and tackle, fish processing tools and supplies, even gear like downriggers and kicker motors. Simply put, equipment failure will not affect your trip.

Because Underdog Sportfishing holds a NOAA-issued Halibut Charter Permit, you may retain halibut according to the year’s charter angler halibut regulations.

We also participate in the GAF (Guided Angler Fish) program. In simple terms, this allows us to acquire for our clients some of the catch share allocated for commercial fishing. Currently, the GAF program offers you the exciting opportunity to harvest two halibut per day of any size until our GAF quote is depleted. Please see our Details page for further information.

Short Runs and Pristine Waters
One of our favorite things about fishing Port Protection is that we can spend all day with our lines in the water. We sometimes fish as little as 5 to 10 minutes from our dock and rarely more than 30 minutes. We can also fish our protected waters in virtually any weather.

The only reason we run farther than 20 minutes or so is to visit the virtually untouched waters around Kuiu Island, just across Sumner Strait. At nearly 750 square miles, Kuiu is the 15th-largest island in the United States yet home to less than a dozen humans.

The southern portion, which we visit, is inhabited only by black bears (one of the world’s densest populations), plus wolves, numerous smaller mammals like beaver and mink, sea otters, sea lions, seals, and whales. The fishing is equally pristine, with hundreds of miles of coves, islands, and points, many of which have never before been fished with rod and reel.

Trip Details
Port Protection trips are complete packages from 4 nights/3 days to 7 nights/6 days packages that include lodging and meals, private charter boats, professional guides, rain gear, boots, unlimited fish processing, and ground transportation.

Please visit our Details page for pricing and additional information.

Typically, you’ll arrive the evening before you fish, wash away the trip with a cocktail and some fresh local seafood, get a good night’s rest, and then spend the next three or more days battling the biggest salmon and halibut on the planet. Departure is the morning after your last fishing day.

UNDERDOG SPORTFISHING, an Execguide, Inc. company
Owned and operated by Capt. James Thomas
907.401.3675 |

CDFW Releases Elk Conservation Management Plan; Encourages Feedback

CDFW photo



The following press release is courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife: 

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) has released a draft of the Statewide Elk Conservation and Management Plan for public review and comment. The plan provides guidance and direction to help set priorities for elk management efforts statewide.

“This draft plan is an important milestone for many of our wildlife program staff, and we’re pleased to be one step closer to completion,” said CDFW Wildlife Branch Chief Kari Lewis. “Public feedback is a critical part of shaping this effort, which emphasizes the sharing of resources and collaboration with all parties interested in elk and elk management. These are essential for effective management of California’s elk populations.”

The overarching plan addresses historical and current geographic range, habitat conditions and trends, and major factors affecting Roosevelt, Rocky Mountain and tule elk in California. The plan also includes subsections that are specific to each of the 22 Elk Management Units (EMUs) in California. These areas collectively comprise the currently known distribution of elk in California. Each subsection includes a description of the EMU and information about elk distribution and abundance, management goals, objectives and actions, herd viability and a summary of annual harvests in that unit.

The plan also outlines management actions that emphasize maintenance and improvement of habitat conditions on both public and private land.

All public comments should be submitted no later than 5 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 29, 2018. Comments may be submitted online, or can be mailed to:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife
Wildlife Branch, Attn: Joe Hobbs
1812 Ninth St.
Sacramento, CA  95811

Comments received by the deadline will be reviewed by CDFW, and appropriate changes will be incorporated into the final document prior to its anticipated release in early 2018.

Day Two Results Of Los Cabos Big Game Classic

Californian Kieran McSween of Middletown (Lake County) won junior angler honors with this dorado. (BONNIER CORP.)

The following press release is courtesy of the Bonnier Corp.:

CABO SAN LUCAS, Mexico (Nov. 16, 2017) — The fifth annual Los Cabos Big Game Charter Boat Classic, the only free-entry fishing tournament on the Baja California Peninsula, entered day two on Wednesday as a growing fleet of 110 boats departed from three ports: Cabo San Lucas, East Cape and San Jose, Mexico. Both the weather and the fishing improved, providing anglers ideal conditions for a day on the water.

Anglers fishing out of Cabo followed up their day one sweep of the dorado category with a repeat performance on day two. Tom Holste from Steamsville, Maryland, led the way with a 16.4-pound entry caught on Sushi Time I, earning him a check for $1,800. Second place was brought to the scales by Murrieta, California, angler Rita Muiter on The Blue Marlin, whose 13.7-pound fish was good for $900. The third place prize of $635 was awarded to Mike Chau from Vacaville, California, for his 12.3-pound catch while fishing aboard Dream Catcher.

The wahoo bite was hot in San Jose and Cabo on day two as several impressive catches made their way to the scales. Angler Keith Ross from Lafayette, California, got things started by boating a 35.1-pound wahoo on Jacqueline for first place and $1,800. Next up was James Moore from Delaware, Ohio, whose 34.1-pound entry caught on Hard Effort earned second place and $900. Filling out the category was angler A.J. Summers from Winnetka, Illinois, with a 33.9-pound catch on Jacqueline for $635.

Several nice tuna were also landed on day two of the tournament. David Martin from Hudson, Colorado, took the top prize of $1,800 with his impressive 97.6-pound tuna on Killer II out of San Jose. The second place award of $900 went to Richard Jones for his 83.3-pound entry while fishing on Sea Bum in Cabo. San Jose angler Alfredo Salgado from Redlands, California, claimed the third place winnings of $635 for his 80.5-pound fish caught on Lydia.

Kieran McSween from Middletown, California, took the junior angler division for the second day in a row with his 6.8-pound dorado caught on Cheers in Cabo. The day two top lady angler award went to Jennifer Nuffer from Evansville, Indiana, for her 32.9-pound tuna landed on Adrenaline in Cabo.

The Los Cabos Big Game Charter Boat Classic continues through Nov. 17. For more information, visit

Los Cabos Big Game Charter Boat Classic 2017 Results: Day Two (Nov. 15)

1st Place Tuna

Weight – 97.6 pounds

Angler – David Martin from Hudson, CO

Boat – Killer II, San Jose

Prize – $1,800 and King Sailfish Mounts Trophy


2nd Place Tuna

Weight – 83.3 pounds

Angler – Richard Jones from Portland, OR

Boat – Sea Bum, Cabo

Prize – $900 and King Sailfish Mounts Trophy


3rd Place Tuna

Weight – 80.5 pounds

Angler – Alfredo Salgado from Redlands, CA

Boat – Lydia, San Jose

Prize – $635 and King Sailfish Mounts Trophy


1st Place Dorado

Weight – 16.4 pounds

Angler – Tom Holste from Steamsville, MD

Boat – Sushi Time I, Cabo

Prize – $1,800 and King Sailfish Mounts Trophy


2nd Place Dorado

Weight – 13.7 pounds

Angler – Rita Muiter from Murrieta, CA

Boat – The Blue Marlin, Cabo

Prize – $900 and King Sailfish Mounts Trophy


3rd Place Dorado

Weight – 12.3 pounds

Angler – Mike Chau from Vacaville, CA

Boat – Dream Catcher, Cabo

Prize – $635 and King Sailfish Mounts Trophy


1st Place Wahoo

Weight – 35.1 pounds

Angler – Keith Ross from Lafayette, CA

Boat – Jacqueline, San Jose

Prize – $1,800 and King Sailfish Mounts Trophy


2nd Place Wahoo

Weight – 34.1 pounds

Angler-James Moore from Deleware, OH

Boat- Hard Effort, Cabo

Prize-$900 and King Sailfish Mounts Trophy


3rd Place Wahoo

Weight – 33.9 pounds

Angler – A.J. Summers from Winnetka, IL

Boat-Jacqueline, San Jose

Prize – $635 and King Sailfish Mounts Trophy


Top Junior Angler

Angler – Kieran McSween from Middletown, CA

Catch – 6.8-pound dorado

Boat – Cheers, Cabo

Prize – King Sailfish Mounts Trophy


Top Lady Angler

Angler – Jessica Nuffer from Evansville, IN

Catch – 32.9-pound tuna

Boat – Adrenaline, Cabo

Prize – King Sailfish Mounts Trophy

Black Market Abalone Selling Suspects Arrested

arrest 1

A CDFW officer makes an arrest. (CDFW)

The following press release is courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife:

Wildlife officers have arrested four suspects on charges of harvesting abalone with a recreational fishing license then selling it on the black market for profit, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) announced. The arrests were preceded by a five-month investigation of the suspects, some of whom have been previously convicted of similar violations.

Arrested were Oakley resident Thepbangon Nonnarath, 48, El Sobrante resident Dennis Nonnarath, 45, and San Jose residents Thu Thi Tran, 45, and Cuong Huu Tran, 42.

The group came to the attention of CDFW wildlife officers in November 2016, when Thepbangon and Dennis Nonnarath and two associates were cited for multiple abalone violations at Moat Creek, a popular recreational abalone fishery in Mendocino County. Thepbangon Nonnarath had previous abalone poaching convictions and the wildlife officers suspected the group may be engaged in the commercial sale of recreationally harvested abalone, which is unlawful.

Wildlife officers observed the suspects using dive gear to harvest abalone for suspected sale on the black market. (CDFW)

Beginning in May 2017, wildlife officers observed suspicious activity by the same group of suspects in several popular recreational abalone diving locations in both Mendocino and Sonoma counties. Further investigation revealed an extended group of people who were harvesting abalone and allegedly selling it on the black market. The five-month investigation uncovered evidence of various poaching crimes among the group, including unlawful sale of sport caught abalone, take of abalone for personal profit, commercial possession of sport caught abalone, exceeding the seasonal limit of abalone, falsification of abalone tags and conspiracy to commit a crime, among others.

“The collective efforts of these suspected poachers show a blatant disregard for the regulations designed to protect California’s abalone resources,” said David Bess, Chief of CDFW’s Law Enforcement Division. “Whether it be California abalone or African ivory, wildlife officers will not tolerate trafficking of our wildlife resources.”

The alleged abalone poaching crimes occurred at a time when abalone are facing significant threats to their populations due to unprecedented environmental and biological stressors. As a result, the California Fish and Game Commission has re-adopted an emergency abalone regulation to continue the restriction of the annual abalone limit to 12 abalone per person and continue the reduced open season which is limited to May, June, August, September and October.

Happy Birthday, America; Here’s To Our Wounded Warriors

Photo by Chris Cocoles

Happy Independence Day!

Celebrate your country’s birthday safely today.  In this month’s California Sportsman we profiled Mike Nares, a Southern Californian who served multiple tours of duty in Iraq and Afghanistan and suffered traumatic injuries after his unit was attacked. As you’ll see in our piece, Nares is doing OK despite suffering from PTSD, but it hasn’t been easy. He joined six other wounded warriors on a marlin fishing trip to Cabo that was sponsored by lending company loanDepot. Here’s a sneak peek at my story that will be running this month.

Mike Nares (top left) and other wounded warriors during their Baja fishing trip. (LOANDEPOT)

FOR AMERICA’S VETERANS, WHAT today is known by the acronym PTSD has likely been affecting troops since at least the Revolutionary War (terms like nostalgia, shell shock and battle fatigue have all entered the lexicon over time), if not before. But nobody really acknowledged it officially by that name until 1980, just seven years removed from U.S. withdrawal in Vietnam. It’s now become an accepted reality of the difficulties servicemen and -women are susceptible to after their time in combat ends.

Mike Nares, who grew up in suburban Vista, 40 miles north of San Diego, served in the Army from the time he graduated high school until being medically discharged in 2011. Between that time, he had 10 deployments in both Iraq and Afghanistan. A staff sergeant when he left the Army, Nares was awarded two Purple Heart and two Bronze Star medals. In 2010, he suffered traumatic brain and neck injuries when he was caught up in an ambush in Afghanistan. Nares also saw combat in Ramadi, Iraq, site of some of the fiercest fighting of the Iraq War in the mid-2000s and was once controlled by ISIS before being driven out of the city by Iraqi forces in 2016.

“I fought in Ramadi twice, in 2004 and 2006, when it was then considered the most dangerous place on Earth. I always thought that I saw more stuff than anyone else did, and for a long time that’s what I (assumed),” Nares says. “But then hearing all these other people and other veterans tell their stories, it made me realize that I’m not the only one that experienced that type of war. It’s actually really awesome to hear their stories.”

That’s one of the most difficult aspects of overcoming the effects of PTSD. When Nares was discharged, he shut down completely in terms of sharing the details of what happened on the battlefield. Save for his mother, nobody seemed worthy of a recreation of events. 

He was hardly alone in his silence. The last thing returning veterans want to do is recall the atrocities they witnessed, the wounds they suffered and the memories of fighting alongside comrades they’d left behind.  

“A lot of times, that first time where you’re willing to tell the story, it’s going to be amongst people who were over there in similar circumstances, who understand than it would be with a civilian or with someone who never served,” Calvin Coolidge of the Freedom Alliance says.

It took Nares two years of silence before he began to interact with other wounded vets, the only others who could possibly relate. Still, all Nares wanted to do – futilely, given the nature of his injuries – was return to the Middle East. 

“Getting out was the hardest thing, knowing that I couldn’t be there with my soldiers or anyone that I served with anymore, and not being part of a family. I was living with a family and now I was all by myself,” he says. 

“All I knew was the military; as soon as I’d gotten out of high school, I joined. When my time was up – sorry, this is bringing back memories – I missed it, a lot.”

So it was only fitting that Nares’ first step in the right direction was to open up once he began interacting with others who had similar experiences to his. Who else could understand the hell these brave men and women endured over there? 

How far has Nares come? If you ask him about his tours of duty, he’ll gladly talk about some – not all – of his time in uniform. 

“I don’t like to tell everything that I’ve been through, because some of it is too intense to even want to put out there into words. But now if anyone has the time to listen, I’m willing to tell my story,” he says. 

“It’s my healing process now to be able to let everyone know what I’ve been through and that I’m not messed up – that this is who I am. I had PTSD and a traumatic brain injury and other things. I don’t mind telling my story to anyone who asks – civilian or someone in the military. It’s just a better way to heal for me.”


Heating Up With The Hogs




The following appears in the May issue of California Sportsman:

By Tim E. Hovey

Our late start had us on the property well after sunrise, and the forecast was calling for temperatures in the high 80s, tolerable for those sitting in the shade sipping a cold one but a challenge for doing anything physical outside.

I knew that and so did Jose, but we didn’t care. We each had a pig tag in our packs and we had the rest of the day to fill them. After over a decade of friendship, Jose De Orta and I have had plenty of adventures in the outdoors. When I’m out hunting, I’m usually hunting with him and his son Adrian. They hunt as hard as I do, and I know when the De Ortas are at my side, we’ll hunt in any type of terrain, from sunup to sundown. This would be a big challenge. 

I DROVE TO THE north side of the property where we had planned to hunt. After five solid years of drought, the terrain looked bleak. The lush chaparral and oak woodlands were brown and the hills – covered with dead grass – looked depressing. Swirls of dust wafted across the plains and it seriously didn’t look at all inviting. 

We pulled to a familiar spot, grabbed the rifles and started the hunt. After hiking the hills and kicking through two pig beds, we returned to the truck an hour later, sweaty and empty handed. We sat on the tailgate and chugged ice-cold water from the cooler. I had parked in the only shade around and though the wind was warm, it felt good. 

I glanced further north and saw a huge lone oak near the base of a hill. Behind the oak and halfway up the slope was the only spot of green around. If you weren’t familiar with the area, you’d have no idea that a farm pond sat between the oak and the green patch. That’s where we were headed next.

I drove up slowly and parked below the pond levee. We looked the area over and decided on a quick plan. The dirt mound we were hiding behind formed one side of the shallow pond on the left. The massive oak tree sat near the right bank and provided the only shade around. 

A narrow strip of dark earth was very noticeable on the back bank, evidence of the spring that fed the pond. At the head of the spring and in stark contrast to the parched, brown terrain was the bright green stand of wild grape I had seen from over a mile away.

A year earlier, Jose and I had kicked up a large boar from the green bush, and for obvious reasons we had nicknamed the spot “the pond.” Despite five shots from Jose, that boar had escaped.

The plan was simple and familiar: Jose would set up under the huge oak at the right of the pond and I’d hike around to the top of the spring bush and kick through the bed. If pigs were bedded in the wild grape, hopefully they’d flee towards Jose.

I grabbed my lever-action .30-30 and slung it across my body so I could have my hands free to make the hike. Jose grabbed his rifle and a set of shooting sticks and set up in the shade of the giant oak. He nodded that he was set and I headed out to kick through the bed.

I circled around to the left of the pond. While I walked, I spotted two sets of fresh pig prints in the soft mud near the edge of the water. One set was huge and it looked like a boar had been at the pond earlier that day. 

It took me about 15 minutes to get into position. I was about 30 feet from the pig bed and getting ready to make some noise. The wind was barely moving but hitting me right in the face. I looked through the binoculars to make sure Jose was ready. I knew if we kicked pigs out of the brush, the action could happen quickly. Jose returned my wave.

I unslung my .30-30 and checked the action. While I wanted to push pigs towards Jose, I also wanted to be prepared for whatever was going to happen next.

AS I STOOD ABOVE the wild grape bush, I could see fresh pig sign around the edge. I grabbed a few small rocks and tossed them into the bushes, but nothing moved. The wind swirled and the smell it carried was pungent and undeniable. The musky odor of wild pigs hit me right in the face. Before I could do anything else, the bushes started to shake violently.

A huge boar exploded from a dirt bed deep in the green shrub. For a few seconds the pig bounced around the thick vines looking for an escape. I glanced down to Jose and yelled out the magic word, “Pig!” The huge boar busted through the vegetation and headed downhill towards the pond and Jose.

I took two steps to higher ground to watch the hunt. Instantly, I saw a problem. The pig was on a dead run and headed way left of where Jose was positioned and he wasn’t aiming his rifle. The weeds around the pond were high, so while he could hear the pig busting a path through the dead vegetation, he couldn’t see him. I knew he had no shot to kill this pig.

I pulled the hammer back on my .30-30 and shouldered it. I easily found the dark body of the retreating pig in the scope. Jose was well to my right and safely out of the line of fire. The crosshairs danced on the boar and I pulled the trigger. A puff of dust rose from the pig’s rear. This did nothing to slow him down.

As I kept the rifle shouldered, I ejected the shell and chambered a second. The boar was headed straight away from me and about 90 yards out, so I placed the crosshairs between his ears and again pulled the trigger. The shot felt perfect and the pig stiffened up, tumbled and cart-wheeled to a stop in a cloud of dust.

Jose quickly made his way to the downed pig. I cleared my rifle and took a deep breath. Kicking pigs out of their beds is definitely exciting, and I was happy we finally had meat for the cooler.

I pushed through the dead grass and followed the pig’s last steps. I found blood where I had first hit him. It wasn’t much and I knew the injury wasn’t lethal. The second shot hit the boar right between the shoulder blades, killing him instantly. 

I looked back to the bedding area and then over towards the pond. The tall grass made it hard to see the water. The dead vegetation surrounding Jose’s set-up spot made it impossible for him to have seen the escaping pig.

We dragged the large boar into the shade of the large oak and got things ready to part it out. The pig was a fighter and displayed deep scars on his back and a split ear. He had lengthy cutters, one of them chipped and jagged. Once boars reach their second year and start fighting other boars, they usually become solitary and bed up alone.

After I tagged the pig, we laid out a tarp and began parting out the boar. I pulled the truck close, and with the exception of dragging the large pig 40 feet into the shade of the oak, the field dressing and meat handling were very easy. It was a satisfying end. 

WE PACKED THE COOLERS full of wild pork and stowed the gear. With the temperature closing in on 90 degrees, we decided to call it a day. Back at our pickup spot, we split up the meat and, as always, talked about when we could get out again.

To me hunting is all about who I hunt with. I pay very little attention to filling tags or taking limits. When I think of trips past, I remember good times, camaraderie and great friends. I seriously doubt I would ever run the hills looking for pigs without Jose. 

Hunting wild pigs in California is challenging and exciting (not to mention open throughout the year). Seeking out bedding areas near watering holes when the weather heats up is a great place to start. If you decide to kick through their beds, be prepared for fast action and stay safe. Lone boars are alone for a reason – I never approach a pig bed without a loaded firearm and an escape plan.

The meat is lean and can be prepared a variety of ways. Above all, make sure you head out with good friends. I remember this particular trip for a number of reasons. However, the most vivid memory of this exciting pig hunt will always be having my good friend Jose there with me. CS


NorCal Rock Crab Closure Order Extended


The following press release is courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife:

California Department of Fish and Wildlife Director Charlton H. Bonham, under new authority granted this year, has acted to extend the emergency commercial rock crab fishery closure that was due to expire on May 16.

State health agencies determined last fall that rock crabs north of Pigeon Point (37° 11’ N. lat.) to the Oregon border had unhealthy levels of domoic acid and recommended a commercial fishery closure. Subsequently, Director Bonham submitted an emergency rulemaking to close the commercial rock crab fishery north of Pigeon Point. The recreational fishery for rock crab remained open statewide with a warning from the California Department of Public Health (CDPH) to recreational anglers to avoid consuming the viscera of rock crab caught in the closure area. Following the recommendation of state health agencies, the CDFW Director announced on February 10, 2017 that the open area of the commercial rock crab fishery had been extended northward to Bodega Bay, Sonoma County (38° 18? N. Lat.).

Bonham’s decision today extends the emergency commercial rock crab fishery closure that was due to expire on May 16. CDFW is continuing to work closely with state health agencies to monitor levels of domoic acid in rock crabs and other species not affected by this closure. This closure shall remain in effect until the Director of the Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment (OEHHA), in consultation with the Director of CDPH, determines that domoic acid levels no longer pose a significant risk to public health and recommends the fishery be open. CDFW will continue to coordinate with CDPH and OEHHA to test domoic acid levels in crab along the coast to determine when the fishery can safely be opened.

Domoic acid is a potent neurotoxin produced by a naturally occurring marine alga, whose levels can be increased under certain ocean conditions.

Wild Turkey Season Will Require Nonlead Ammo Only

Photo by CDFW

The following press release is courtesy of the California Department of Fish and Wildlife:

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) is reminding hunters that nonlead ammunition is now required statewide when hunting wild turkeys with a shotgun. The upcoming 2017 spring wild turkey season will be the first hunting season with significant participation for which nonlead shot will be required statewide.

These regulations apply both to public and private lands (except for licensed game bird clubs), including all national forests, Bureau of Land Management properties and CDFW lands. Private landowners or anyone authorized to hunt on private land must also comply with these regulations.

California’s 2017 general spring wild turkey season opens statewide on March 25 and extends through April 30. The archery-only season will follow immediately afterward, running from May 1-14. Hunters who have a current junior hunting license may also hunt the weekend before the opener (March 18 and 19), and the two weeks following the general season (May 1-14), using shotguns or any other legal method of take.

Hunters are encouraged to practice shooting with nonlead shot in order to ensure their shotguns are patterned appropriately before heading into the field.

For more information on nonlead ammunition regulations and the implementation process, please